It was the bruise on the breast
that did it for me.
It was a large pendulous breast
that hung obscene over the
damaged globe of stomach
and cake slices of hip fat.
'Ah no!' the crowd yelled as
she took off her bikini bra to tackle
her opponent, yet another fat woman
in this circus show of freaks.
They faced each other:
one taller, slightly less fat,
less a monstrosity,
with slim legs and perky breasts.
All she had was a huge belly that looked out of place,
like a pregnant woman's melon.
They squared up, they
battled and butted,
the crowd yelled feverishly
in the darkness of a converted movie house.
The breasts swung wildly,
There was no winner as they stood before us,
starrring into the our darkness,
defiantly showing their fleshy failures.
Lights pulsed, we clapped,
the bigger woman's breasts hung.
We stared:breasts like hers are usually hidden.
I noticed her bruise then,
a purple imperfection –
quickly, suddenly, she remembered:
she raised her hands to cover her ugly breasts,
the body put on parade for deformity and grossness,
and just as quickly she released her hands,
as though remembering an acquired defiance.
And then I saw her too:
I saw the woman who'd been chosen
somewhere in America
for her grotesque thighs
and dimpled stretched legs.
Who'd dropped her bra in an audition,
standing still for others to look and prod,
deciding that there was enough sag.
The woman who had cultivated ugliness because,
so I thought, it was easy.
But it isn't easy.
It isn't easy to stand there,
showing your ugliness to the world,
pretending you don't care
when people gasp in revulsion
as you drop your bra.
It isn't easy,
and you show just how hard it is
when suddenly you remember to cover
a bruise on your breast,
hiding, for a second,
the folds of your dropped flesh.
(Published in The fire in which we burn)